With winters slowly seeping into our beings, many of us dread getting out of our razai. But when we finally do, it’s all about that steaming cup of tea. One cup, two cup or twenty, whatever it takes to do the trick, you juts have to get your poison seeping through your veins, right?
This Pakistani Instagrammer is brewing more than hot tea in a cup.
Rimsha Rasul is a 19 year old student of Sociology and a daughter to a Pakistani father and an Indian mother.
“My physical features show little sign of my mind and my thoughts, but my words do. The written word holds my imagination, my values and my inner uncensored human. In a world of bars and barriers, I have everything to offer. Which is why for now, I choose to remain faceless”, Rimsha writes in one of her Instagram posts, announcing her decision to remain anonymous.
Rimsha’s Instagram blog focuses on the written word.
The text that accompanies her pictures is primarily focused on depicting the struggle and experiences of people of color all over the world and breaking down the stigmas associated around and within the wider South Asian community.
Being raised in England in a multi-ethnic family, she has always been fond of embracing her background.
She feels that there is a certain level of magic that sparks from loving your ethnicity and accepting all elements that make up your culture in such a rapidly changing society. And that is the sort of self-expression she carries forward with her Instagram gallery.
“Both my blog and Instagram page to be safe places on which people could share their opinions on societal issues, and more importantly – a platform on which people would listen and relate to what I had to say. It was not long before I realized that I had shaped an outlet on which I could channel my creativity”, Rimsha Rasul shared while speaking to MangoBaaz.
“When I first started off on Instagram, it was for the sole intention of sharing my writing with the world. My posts comprised of text on basic backgrounds, as weeks went by, I found my voice on the internet and I began to post pictures accompanied by poetry/prose in the captions. This transition of my gallery reflects my journey, and how I have grown in comfort as a writer.”
She maintains that the photos are amateur in nature.
They are taken on her phone and edited through a (cracked) mobile screen with applications like Picsart. The subject of her images tend to be associated with the little bits of the mundane that make our tiresome days a tad brighter, such as cups and cups and cups of tea in bed.
“For the most part, the images are posted in their most natural sense, and other times I let my imagination wander in my edits.”
Talking about what inspires her, Rimsha shares:
“I believe that I am inspired by my religion and I aspire to reciprocate the love that my faith has taught me to spread by empowering others. For me, the desire to write certainly stems from my love of reading and that I have a lot to say about everything. I guess I let paper suffer the side effects of my chatterbox tendencies.”
She threw the peacock-blue dupatta over her head and watched it fall as it draped perfectly around her hair, her dark lashes flickered in unison. ‘twas a gift of engagement, her blue salwar-kameez, simple but adorned with the blessings of her elders. The mirror stared back at her, its cracks gleaming in the late afternoon sun, as if to question when her once large almond-brown eyes had diluted to a watery hazel. / Shattered glass was a bad omen, but she trusted fate. Nestling the basket of ground wheat in the nook of her waist, she abandoned her floating thoughts and entered the outhouse. Chappati’s were to be made, and war …well war would just have to wait. ~ ~ ~ The call to maghrib prayer had ended by the time he returned and the village folk had already began to lock their gates. He had overheard talks of a partition between traders at the city market, this had been the case on every visit he took to trade in the city since winter had ended. Soon to be married and a family to feed, he had little time to ponder. The concept did not frighten him so much then, as it did now. · Until last month, he was not entirely sure of what it meant nor was he aware that 'separating' from ones land was a possibility. Even so, the reality of rich men politics was creeping closer to the village day by day. · His donkey was free of the weight loaded onto him at dawn and moved faster, it had been a fruitful day yet the air told another story. He breathed in the aroma, whether it was the arrival of revolution or a precursor of injustice could only be told with time. · The illusion of the flaming sun setting the harvest alight reminded him that he had an appointment with God. And war, a potential war, would just have to wait. – · · · *salwar-kameez: loose trousers and long shirts – traditionally worn by South Asian women.| *maghrib: evening/sunset prayer #flashfiction
Many of Rimsha’s writings are carefully strewn in between cups of tea in bed; whether it is social commentary over the chaiwala or poetry about people born in between borders.
“As young South Asians, it is important that we understand the fact that we will be raising the next generation, who regardless of the shade of their skin, eyes and hair – will hold a brown identity. I think its about time that children could grow up without insecurities being instilled within their minds from young impressionable ages. More importantly, I think it’s time we challenged the hypocrisy within our communities – how can we retaliate against the racism we face as ‘race’, if we uphold and practice similar stereotypes within and between ourselves.”
At one instance, Rimsha writes:
We are –
The products of packed bags and fragmented languages,
Fading footprints on the land that is not ‘ours’. We are –
Brown skin in pale places,
Walking through margins in a world too large to swallow.
Writing about the brown diaspora, Rimsha pens down one of my personal favorite verses of poetry:
“I may dwell under city lights, But my blood is what makes – me,
For, I was a king, a slave and a laborer.
My ancestors earned my brown.”
Time and again, the internet has proved to be a space for change. In a post-Brexit world where Donald Trump gets elected as the president of the world power based primarily on a campaign built upon hate speech, dialogue such as this is as imperative as ever, especially for South Asians abroad. For such times, social media is the perfect melting pot of meeting and conversing with like-minded individuals and trying to bring forward minority voices to the forefront.